(Sports Network) - A strong June has propelled the Detroit Tigers to the top of the American League Central Division. They hope to stay there tonight in the opener of a three-game interleague series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
The Tigers have won three of four and nine of their last 13 games to grab a one-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for AL Central supremacy. They just took two of three matchups from the Tribe in the Motor City and are coming off Thursday's 6-2 victory in which Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn both homered to lead Detroit, which got three hits from Brennan Boesch and a pair of runs batted in by Victor Martinez.
Boesch entered the game batting .389 with five homers and 11 RBI in his previous 13 games and added to those numbers Thursday. Martinez was hitting .378 with two homers and 11 RBI in his previous 19 contests.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer pushed his 2011 record to 9-2 this season by holding the Indians to two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde went the rest of the way to preserve the win.
"Right now, we're playing pretty well. We're coming together," Scherzer said on Detroit's website. "But the thing is, we still have another 100. We have to grind it out and get these series wins."
The Tigers will also visit the Los Angeles Dodgers on this six-game trek and are 16-17 away from Comerica Park this season. Rick Porcello tries to pitch himself back into the win column when he toes the rubber for Detroit tonight. Porcello was 6-1 in nine starts before losing to Seattle in a 7-3 decision on Sunday in Motown, where he was reached for three runs and six hits over seven innings.
Porcello, who is 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 12 starts, is a dominant 4-1 in seven road outings this season and defeated the Rockies the only time he faced them back on May 22, 2009 in the Motor City. In that 4-3 triumph, the right-hander delivered six innings of one-run ball and allowed six hits.
Meanwhile, the Rockies will resume their 10-game homestand Friday and have won five of their last eight games overall. They improved to 4-3 on the residency with Wednesday's 6-3 triumph over the San Diego Padres in the finale of a three-game series in the Rocky Mountains.
A five-run bottom of the sixth inning lifted the Rockies to victory, as Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton each had RBI singles and Ryan Spilborghs plated a pair of runners with a base hit in the inning.
"No one was trying to do too much other than square the ball up and use the big part of the field," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of the pivotal inning.
Charlie Blackmon had three hits and an RBI and Carlos Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 1-for-4 performance at the plate and an RBI. Gonzalez is hitting .425 with a homer, four RBI and 17 hits during the streak.
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin pitched six strong innings for his eighth win of the season (8-4), surrendering just one run on three hits with seven strikeouts.
Jason Hammel hopes to break out of his funk when he toes the rubber for the Rockies tonight. Hammel is 0-5 with a 4.53 earned run average in his last seven starts and Colorado has dropped his previous eight trips to the hill.
Hammel was last in action in Saturday's 11-7 loss versus the Los Angeles Dodgers and he allowed three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and four walks over five innings. The setback dropped him to 3-6 in 13 starts to go along with a 3.65 ERA.
The right-hander is 2-5 in seven home starts and will face Detroit for the sixth time in his career. Hammel is 1-0 with a gaudy 5.14 ERA in five games (2 starts) in this matchup.
Detroit and Colorado are meeting for the first time since the Rockies won a three-game set from May 22-24, 2009 at Comerica Park. The Rockies have won seven of the past eight meetings between the clubs at Coors Field and are 103-105 all-time in interleague play. The Tigers own a 135-115 ledger against the National League.